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How humans live technology: an evolving physical relationship

Updated: Jan 18


Since humans forged the first tool with his hands, technological progress has been a constant companion in human evolution. Indeed, technology has changed the way we live, work, and interact with each other, influencing our physical relationship with the tools we use and increasingly integrating the physical world with the virtual one. However, to tell the story of the relationship between the physical and virtual worlds, it's not necessary to go so far back; we only need to return to a century ago.


The distant past: the immobility of digital

Throughout the 20th century, the birth and evolution of the computer marked a turning point in the history of technology. The first machines were huge, often occupying entire rooms, and represented a symbol of progress and innovation. To use them, individuals had to physically go to computing centers, and this "journey" required to access computing resources emphasized the sacredness of these devices and limited their accessibility to a select few, making computing an esoteric field distant from everyday life.

This remained the case even with the advent of the Internet in the late '90s, which could only be accessed in certain places, such as internet cafes, offices, and homes, keeping the relationship between man and the digital world strictly tied to a place.


The nearly outdated present: the fusion of Digital and Physical humans

In the early 2000s, the two environments – physical and digital – began to intertwine more and more thanks to the advent of the smartphone. Today, we can receive online directions that facilitate our physical transfers, search for information about something we have just seen in person, all while walking. The smartphone allows us to communicate in real-time with anyone in the world and access an infinite amount of information, making us dependent on this object that has become an extension of ourselves: we hold it in our hands wherever we go, and if we don't have it, we experience a moment of abstinence, or "nomophobia," which is the fear of being without a cell phone.

Another object on which we are and will be dependent, as it also puts us in front of a screen keeping us tied to a physical, invasive object, is the viewer. The viewer, for example, Apple's Vision Pro, is capable of recreating environments and experiences, similarly lived in the physical world, in an exclusively virtual environment, or in augmented reality, where our mind can isolate itself and immerse in a fictional world, almost like a dream but awake. Therefore, this technology represents a step even closer to allowing us to live in a hybrid environment where the physical and digital intertwine.


The imminent future: Wearable Technology

Today, the direction taken is not only towards a hybrid future but also towards an integrated future, where the distance between technology and us is increasingly reduced, because we no longer carry it in our hands, as an extension of ourselves, but wear it like an object that has belonged to everyday life for centuries.

This is 'wearable' technology, i.e., wearable and intelligent (IOT - Internet of Things), now represented by smartwatches, fitness bracelets, smart glasses, smart bands, fitness trackers, and smart rings, which connect via Bluetooth or Wi-Fi to hardware like the smartphone but perform multiple functions. For example, a smartwatch not only serves as a watch but also performs other functions, such as sending notifications, answering a phone call, remotely controlling certain activities, monitoring heart rate, and detecting, through sensors, falls and accidents, making emergency calls. Wearable devices, therefore, complete the real experience and physical needs with intelligent digital solutions, consolidating the idea of a future where digital becomes complementary to physical reality.

An example of a super-advanced 'wearable device' is the innovation of Imran Chaudhri and Bethany Bongiorno, former Apple designers and founders of, a company that aims to create "the right artificial intelligence",that is, human-centered, accessible, inclusive, and timeless technology. According to their appearance in a TED Talk, it would consist of a product similar to a 'pin', a small wearable object on one's jacket easily usable, not requiring any external hardware to function. This is because all its activities will be based only on the cloud and will be equipped with a projector, camera, speaker, and microphone, so the only way to interact will be through voice or gestures as if our senses had an assistant that hears what we hear and repeats what we say.


The relationship between technology and man has evolved over time, and will continue to do so, intensifying and increasing its influence also on society, thus on the relationships between us humans. It will certainly be interesting to discover how we will adapt to future inventions and how our society will change again.


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